Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Birthday Cake

It was my husband's birthday recently...not a big one but another one and he was wanting some comfort cake to sweeten it.
I have a great recipe for Red Velvet Cake but I am nervous about all that dye in food. Plus has anyone noticed the price of red food color?? It would have been about $7.00 for the color alone.
So I have been playing with just a velvet cake recipe and this one is the best so far. I am posting the recipe for the cake. I filled the cake with ganache and seedless raspberry jelly. I iced the cake with a regular American style buttercream. You can fill and frost with just about anything. I am working through a peanut butter/cream cheese filling and frosting that I might just Elvis up with bananas. YUK, you might say but so far I am getting good reviews. I will post that recipe when I feel it won't elicit the scrunched nose effect.
The cake is very light and almost melts in the mouth. It has a rich chocolate flavor without overwhelming. I love the apple cider vinegar in it that adds depth to the chocolate. I think this is a keeper for an easy birthday cake and here's how you make it!
Velvet Cake

1/2 Cup Shortening
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
10 Ounces Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make sure all ingredients are room temperature. Grease two 8-inch pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Cream shortening. Add sugar and beat well with electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla . Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternatively with the buttermilk mixture beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
4. Dissolve the baking soda into the vinegar. Stir into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, Remove cake layers from the pans, peel of the parchment paper and cool completely on wire racks. Fill and frost with favorite icing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Coconut Macaroons for a Sweet Boss

My hardworking boss made a plea for some coconut macaroons.
She has been working day and night, most of the time with a smile on her face. She is always available to help me with what I need so I was looking forward to making her something.
I admit that I love to make these cookies because they are so darn easy! The recipe is right on the back of the bag of Bakers coconut. After trying a few different recipes, I always come back to the one on the back of the bag...and not JUST because I am lazy.
I spent a little over an hour from start to finish and that includes cooling time which I spent nibbling errant coconut crumbs. I dipped some of them in chocolate and left some plain.
I find that there are a lot of good recipes lurking on the packaging of products. Butter packages have yummy recipes and don't get me started on the the Corn Flake recipes.
Well, here is the recipe and I hope you like them as much as Ms. C. did. If you lose the recipe, just remember to look on the back of the bag.

7 ounces coconut flakes (the whole bag)
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate Squares

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non-stick liner.
2. Mix together first four ingredients in a bowl with a large fork, making sure coconut is not clumping together.
3. Add egg whites and extract. Mix together well.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared pan. I use a small ice cream scoop for uniformity.
5. Bake 20 minutes turning once during cooking. Remove from oven and using a spatula, transfer to a rack to cool completely.
6. Melt the six ounces chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water, stirring gently and frequently. Dip the bottom of the macaroons in melted chocolate. Set aside on wax paper until the chocolate becomes firm. Store in a cool place. Make about 18 cookies.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sipping Pretty at Legal Sea Foods

Recently, my son and I dined at Legal Sea Food for lunch. It was a 90+ degree day and the air conditioning in the place was working hard. I wanted something refreshing, not too sweet and maybe just a little tart. The Arnold Palmer caught my eye among the other drinks that sounded more like martinis without the alcohol. The Arnold Palmer is a large glass of half iced tea and half lemonade garnished with a plump lemon wedge and lots of ice to swirl with the mega straw. I love to see ice tea on a menu and the lemonade sparked the little girl in me.

The drink was as good as it sounded. I sipped through the straw slowly so I could make it last the whole meal. The Swordfish Reuben I got with it was not beautiful but it was very tasty, the almost buttery taste of the fish and melted cheese was the perfect accompaniment to my delicious drink. Next week starts the Oyster Festival and I am looking forward to more visits. Legals has so many choices for food that I rarely get the same thing twice but I am set with the drink order now, thanks to Arnie.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicken Breasts with Cider and Caramelized Apples

The Jewish New Year was last week and there was a great recipe in the local newspaper featuring apples that are a part of the New Year tradition. Have a Sweet New Year along with a big smile and even bigger hug was a popular greeting.
The recipe looked really interesting and not too tough.
Here it is below alongside some sauteed Honey Gold corn tossed with assorted wild mushrooms.
It has grown chilly up here in New England and this dish made a grand entrance into Fall.

To make this lovely chicken dish for 6 people:

1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Madeira
1/2 cup water
6 chicken breast halves, with skin on
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
ground black pepper, to taste
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, (peels reserved)cored and cut into eighths
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup apple cider
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon orange zest

1.In a small saucepan, combine the raisins, wine and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat; remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes, or until the raisins are fully plumped.
2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
3. Season the chicken breasts with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the five spice powder, 2 teaspoons of salt and black pepper to taste.
4. In a large ovenproof saute pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat. Place the chicken breasts, skin side down, in the pan and cook until well browned and most of the fat has cooked out of the skin, about 5 minutes. Turn the breasts over and pour off any excess fat.
5. Add the apple peels to the pan, slipping them under the chicken breasts. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the chicken breasts are opaque and cooked throughout. Transfer to a warmed serving platter and cover to keep warm. Leave the peels in the pan.
6. Dust the apple peels with flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Pour in the cider and deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any bits stuck to the pan bottom. cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about five minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and decrease the heat to medium so the liquid simmers gently.
7. In a second saute pan over medium high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter is brown and smells brown and toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the apples, honey, lemon juice, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of the five spice powder. Saute the apples, turning them as needed, until they are a rich, even brown color and are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with pepper.
8. Pour any juice released from the chicken into the pan with the apples. Arrange the chicken on the platter and top with the caramelized apples. Drain the raisins and sprinkle on top of the chicken.